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My Third Annual Design Awards Blog Post

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

I managed to make it to the design awards show at the Design Museum in London for 3rd year in a row.  Really was a just in time visit as tomorrow is the last day.  Sadly this year’s post won’t be illustrated as no photography was permitted at least according to one of the staff.  Meanwhile other people were happily taking pictures including one guy who stood next to a member of staff for a couple of minutes using a full sized SLR.  So maybe a simple no photography sign as well as the no touching signs next year?  Anyway hopefully you can imagine what I’m talking about (I’ll try to remember to come back and hunt down links to make this make more sense later)…


The highlight of the architecture section for me was Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel Glasgow, UK.  From the pictures I’d seen before I couldn’t really see anything special about.  Seeing the model the layout became far more apparent with its internal courtyards and intriguing arrangement of spaces.  Combined with its use of glazing and its low form I just thought it was a really interesting piece of design.  What can I say I’m a sucker for a courtyard.

I didn’t notice The Moses Bridge, Fort de Roovere, Netherlands in the exhibition but spotted it in the booklet afterwards.  Looks like a rather fun way of crossing a waterway although maybe a bit unnerving.  The angular model of The Hepworth Wakefield, UK deserves to be exhibited to show its form.  Care Home, Huise-Zingem, Belgium’s model really needed the addition of the plants that are grown on the outside of the real building to break up the quite brutalistic facades. I already knew about the Spaceport America, New Mexico, USA.  If aliens ever threaten to invade we should paint it up like it’s the remnants of a crashed invader and tell them to leave before we unleash our secret weapon against them.

Oh and there was some Velodrome that won the main prize for 2012 too.


This should be the key part of the show for me but I spend too much time with digital stuff and so many of the ideas just make me go – yes and so? The current fad is for apps.  There will be a new fad soon.  In about 20 years this category might mature into something more interesting.

That said I did like Suwappu which have an aesthetic that just appeals to me somehow.


Each year something in the fashion section catches me out because I’m not really that into fashion (the other exhibition at the design museum delayed me getting to the shop by 10 minutes: it was of shoes).  It was almost the Céline Crombie but it just didn’t quite do it for me.  Vivienne Westwood Ethical Fashion Africa collection – other people were doing things like this in the 80s but didn’t have a name so nice to see someone noticing at last but really proves this section is about fashion.

No this year’s garment I could see myself buying till I saw the price in the shop was the Oratory Jacket from Will Carleysmith at Brompton Bicycles Ltd.  It looks like a rather classy cotton jacket but it’s been treated to make it waterproof, an interesting collar and a pull out high vis rear panel.


Are all furniture designers obsessed with chairs?  What about an innovative bed or a rather natty set of shelves.

Not So Expanded Polystyrene was an interesting experiment in hand crafting furniture using Polystyrene.   XXXX_Sofa was structurally intriguing but I can imagine would be maddening to assemble.  The Crates were a modern reworking of Victorian travelling furniture from China with a shipping case look.  I’d like to see a set made by Packhorse Flightcases for a rock band.  The Earthquake Proof Table might not have a cutting edge look but it certainly has an important function.


Beauty in the Street had a really strong look to the book.  The Comedy Carpet is one thing that might make me go to Blackpool.  Nokia Pure is a rather nice typeface.  I should have spent more time looking at Your Browser Sent a Request That this Server Could not Understand and I’d probably put a framed copy on my wall if it was available in poster form.


Heracleum was quite a cool modern chandelier although I don’t think I could live with it.  Mine Kafon is a rather clever and cheap wind powered mine clearing device but I’d like to see more information on how well it clears real minefields with its wind driven passage.  The Orbit vacuum cleaner looks like no vacuum I’ve seen before even those little hand held ones.  White Collection were some rather nice looking minimalist lights with no fuss and a lot of function.

Shade: This I really liked.  In fact I liked it so much its being worked into the designs of my dream house as I think about it.  A material finish for a window that allows areas to change opacity.  The piece used external wind sensors to change the patterns on the windows but I can see having this and being able to programme it yourself could be a huge amount of fun.


Bike Hanger is an interesting way of increasing the amount of bicycle parking in urban areas.

Really liked the Redesign for the emergency ambulance is an example of how good design will make the future better.  I just wish I had a photo of the inside of the back of the full sized mock up to show how this was put together.


For me the pieces I really liked this year were, in alphabetical order:

  • Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel Glasgow, UK
  • Oratory Jacket
  • Redesign for the emergency ambulance
  • Shade
  • The Crates
  • Your Browser Sent a Request That this Server Could not Understand

Bonus Highlight

The biggest highlight of this year’s visit to the Design Museum for me was buying a mu USB Adapter.  I shouldn’t be this excited about buying a plug. What can I say I’ve waited 3 years to own a plug that folds down to 70% less space.

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